High-end audio


High-end audio

High-end audio is a term used to describe higher priced and/or higher quality audio equipment.

Definition of 'high-end'

"High-end audio" can refer to the build quality of the components, but more specifically, refers to the ability to reproduce a recording with the highest fidelity to the original performance that has been committed to the recording.

Typical qualitative attributes that are scaled by audiophile publications and experts are:

*accuracy vs. warmth
*tonal color vs. speed
*timbre
*size of sound stage vs. depth (spatial origins)
*clarity
*pace
*timing

A theoretically perfect audio system would create the illusion of the listener being present in the performance venue and with the musical performers performing on stage.Fact|date=September 2008 There would be no sonic signature that imparts any clue as to the fact that the performance is a playback of a recording instead of witnessing a live performance given by the actual musicians in the particular performance venue.

Professional recording studios

Professional recording studios seldom use high-end audio gear for mixing and monitoring recording sessions.Fact|date=September 2008 Instead, studios use players, amplifiers, signal processors, and speakers that are built to very high standards. These speakers are referred to as studio monitors and are specially crafted to produce very accurate sound, reflecting exactly what is on the recording. Most high-end speakers will tend to add color or tone shaping the music so that it sounds "better".Fact|date=September 2008 For this reason studio monitors must be used to ensure that changes being made to the audio are accurately represented to the engineer.

Costs

High-end audio equipment can be extremely expensive. It is sometimes referred to as cost-no-object equipment. Owners of high-end audio tend to be either audiophiles or conspicuous consumers.Fact|date=September 2008 Audiophiles run the gamut from budget to high-end in terms of equipment price range and are primarily concerned with the quality of music reproduction (accuracy with personal preferences).Fact|date=September 2008 However, even though the retail price of the product may be high, regular components, circuit boards and wires are often used inside.Fact|date=September 2008 This gives the manufacturer very high premiums, which is essential as these devices are not sold in large quantities.Fact|date=September 2008

Controversy

Although the mechanism of hearing is generally understood, the brain is involved in the process, making it subjective and difficult to define. Psychoacoustics is a division of acoustics that studies this field.

Measurements can also be deceiving and high or low figures of certain technical characteristics do not necessarily offer a good representation of how the equipment sounds. For example some valve (vacuum tube) amplifiers produce great amounts of total harmonic distortion, but the type of this distortion (2nd harmonic) is not as disturbing as the higher order distortions produced by transistors. [http://stereophile.com/asweseeit/1082awsi/]

Items often questioned are accessories such as cables utilizing exotic materials and construction geometries, cable stands for lifting them off the floor (as a way to control airborne induced vibrations), connectors, sprays and other tweaks. [http://sound.westhost.com/cables.htm] [http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm]

Manufacturers spend a great effort in designing good looking products, sometimes instead of trying to maximize the audio quality.Fact|date=September 2008 A typical valve amplifier, for example, has its vacuum tubes exposed outside the case of the device, as many potential customers find the glowing tubes attractive.

See also

* Audio quality measurement
* Audiophile
* AV Receivers
* European triode festival
* High-end audio cables
* High fidelity
* Professional audio
* Studio monitors

External links

* [http://www.enjoythemusic.com Enjoy the Music.com] - A worldwide high-end audio equipment and music review site plus consumer electronic show reports and DIY information.
* [http://www.highend-audio.info/ High End Audio Portal]
* [http://www.audiocircuit.com The Audio Circuit] - Information on and user reviews of loudspeakers, headphones, amplifiers, and playback equipment.
* [http://www.stereophile.com/ Stereophile Magazine]
* [http://www.audiodesignline.com/howto/193006254 Testing audio fidelity with absolute dynamic range]
* [http://www.theaudiocritic.com/ theaudiocritic.com] - A hifi magazine. See [http://www.theaudiocritic.com/back_issues/The_Audio_Critic_26_r.pdf Issue 26, Fall 2000] article "The 10 Biggest Lies in Audio"


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